The latest available figures on overall federal expenditures show that the government spent on average $7,149 for each man, woman, and child in the country during fiscal year 2003. Even after adjusting for inflation and the growth in the nation's population, this represents a 15 percent increase in spending since President Bush assumed office.
In contrast, again after adjusting for inflation and population growth during the eight years under President Clinton, per capita federal expenditures actually fell by 1 percent. See chart and table.
The annual rise in these per capita inflation-adjusted expenditures under President Bush have been at a fairly constant rate, and began in his first year of office and thus before the events of 9/11/01.
All figures are for fiscal years which end on September 30. Because the latest federal expenditures only go thru FY 2003 they do not reflect costs this past year for the war in Iraq. See About the Data.
Rankings by Federal Judicial District
Federal expenditures include payments ultimately received by individuals and businesses. These may be salaries received by federal workers, payments for goods and services provided by businesses, social security and medicare benefit checks sent retired persons, grants received by state and local governments, research grants received by colleges and universities, and so forth.
The spending data show considerable per capita variation in how federal dollars are distributed around the country. Examined by the 90 federal judicial districts within the borders of the United States, for example, here are some highlights:
Three out of the top four ranked districts reflected the location of the nation's capital in their midst. Not surprisingly, District of Columbia had the highest per capita expenditures of $60,869. Virginia East (Alexandria) ranked second with $13,117, and Maryland ranked fourth with $10,562.
Setting aside the districts in and around the nation's capital, Alaska had the highest federal expenditure. With $12,339 received for each man, woman, and child in that state.
This contrasted sharply with the Eastern District of Texas (Tyler) which ranked last. On a per capita basis, federal payments there were only $4,989 or only 40% on average of what Alaska residents and businesses received.
Other districts with over nine thousand dollars in federal payments, after Alaska, were New Mexico with $10,100, Florida North (Pensacola) with $9,798, New York North (Syracuse) with $9,145, Hawaii with $9,052, and North Dakota with $9,029.
Joining Texas East with less than $5,500 per person in federal funds received, were the districts of North Carolina West (Asheville) with $4,996, Georgia North (Atlanta) with $5,091, Oklahoma North (Tulsa) with $5,276, Wisconsin East (Milwaukee) with $5,284, Indiana North (South Bend) with $5,336, Nevada with $5,354, Illinois North (Chicago) with $5,402, and Minnesota with $5,494.
A number of large metropolitan districts which ranked low in the per capita payments they received -- in addition to the districts covering Atlanta and Chicago. These low ranking big city districts included: Texas South (Houston) with $5,568, California Central (Los Angeles) with $5,598, Ohio North (Cleveland) with $5,651, and Michigan East (Detroit) with $5,792.
Winners and Losers
Federal dollars flowing into an area sometimes fluctuate dramatically. In FY 2001, for example, Texas North (Fort Worth) ranked 71st among the 90 districts in terms of federal dollars spent per person in the district that year. Two years later, in FY 2003, it ranked 39th. Measured this way, Texas North registered the sharpest increase in the nation. During the same period, the district with the second largest jump in its relative standing was New York North (Syracuse) which went from the 20th to the 7th spot. Also up were Arizona -- 58th to 45th, Maine -- 38th to 26th, and Vermont -- 49th to 38th.
The biggest loser among the 90 districts in the comparative rankings was Mississippi North (Oxford). It went from being the 23rd district in FY 2001 to the 61st in FY 2003. Other big losers included Iowa North (Cedar Rapids) dropping from 46th place to 72nd, Nebraska from 43rd to 63nd, and Alabama South (Mobile) from 37th to 56nd.
See District Rankings table for all 90 districts.